Practice Gratitude Every Day

Every year we dedicate one day to giving thanks.  Why stop there?!  We can enhance our well-being every single day by cultivating and nurturing an attitude of gratitude.

1. Write it down. When we start acknowledging positive aspects of our daily lives, we tend to move away from the easy habit of dwelling on the negatives.  To start, try writing down 5 things that you feel grateful for every single day.  Not only will you build an abundance of positive memories but you will see over time how your attitude changes! Science has found that gratitude can significantly increase happiness and protect us from stress, negativity, anxiety, and depression. 

2. Smile. Showing compassion is possible in a lot of ways, but a smile is the best place to start.  Simply smiling can disarm negative emotions we feel within or dissolve the negative energy projected by others.  Giving your time to someone else can boost your own sense of well-being and a smile is the first step to connecting with others.  Research shows that even a fake smile makes us feel better, reduces stress, and uplifts others.  

3. Play more!  Daily routines can drain the fun and spontaneity out of our lives.  When life feels like a daily grind, we lose sight of the little things that matter and need to make time for play. Idle play and games can boost creativity, help us think outside the box, improve our health, and bring us back to the present moment.  Play with your kids or play games with friends. Try to have a good laugh and find the joy that is present in every day.

4. Stop chasing happiness. The more value we place on happiness the more likely we are to fixate and ruminate when things do not go as planned.  Research has revealed that happiness is driven by the frequency of positive emotions, not the intensity of how happy we feel.  Aiming for positive emotions can lead to disappointment, while aiming for contentment allows us to accept our emotions as we experience them.  Sometimes it is important to sit with negative feelings so we can practice being gentle with ourselves.  Let our feelings flow naturally, and we may find gratitude in the full spectrum of emotions we experience.

5. Body Scan. Meditation is an important component to happiness, and finding awareness in our body can help us feel grateful.  It is so easy to walk around in life just reacting to everything, getting stuck in patterns and repeating dramas.  Cultivating awareness and spaciousness in our minds promotes a calmer sense of self.  Spending just a few minutes every day to notice our own physicality brings us closer to our own center.  This is a time to thoughtlessly feel tension, breathing patterns, heart beat, and digestion.  Sitting up straight or lying down we simply close our eyes and focus our attention on every region of our bodies until we have experienced the whole.  We can find gratitude in the healing we have achieved in certain areas or the steady breath that gives us life.